During the night of Friday on 22nd September 2017, the province of Penama in Vanuatu, was elevated to an Alert Level 4 ‘Moderate eruption state’ due to elevated activity of Manaro volcano on the island of Ambae. On Thursday 28th September 2017, a State of Emergency was declared for the entire island and a full, compulsory evacuation of 11,000 residents of Ambae island to the nearby islands of Espiritu Santo, Pentecost and Maewo was ordered. The volcano subsided somewhat and residents that chose to return were sent back by 30th October 2017. On 7th December 2017, the Alert Level was downgraded to 2 ‘Major Unrest’, however, on 18th March 2018, the volcano erupted again and the Alert Level was increased from 2 to 3 ‘Minor Eruption State’ due to emissions of gases, ash and volcanic bombs. In particular, the impact from the continuous outpouring of ash and gas emissions created hazards including acid rain, flash flooding and landslides; it polluted and destroyed water sources, damaged traditional housing, crops and trees, and impacted human health through direct exposure to acid rain and inhalation of fine ash particles. Wind shifts resulted in almost the entire island being affected, with zones previously marked as ‘safe’ now experiencing hazards, and a significant proportion of the population on Ambae relocated to evacuation centres. With contaminated water sources, damaged crops and reduced food supplies in local stores, the population became reliant on food and water distributions from the Government. On 13th April 2018, the Government declared a State of Emergency and a mandatory, permanent relocation of the Ambae population to adjacent islands. By September 2018, Ambae had been completely evacuated and were the inhabitants were being hosted in temporary dwellings in and around host communities. The evacuation from Ambae to Espirito Santo, Pentecost and Maewo will impact approximately 13% of Vanuatu’s total population.
The ACT Forum is planning on submitting a funding proposal to provide adaptive food security, GBV, peacebuilding and CS training, and assistance to ensure that the volcanic eruption affected persons’ basic needs are met with regards to Food Security, Gender and Protection, Child Safeguarding. ACT Alliance is ready to respond, providing G&P, peacebuilding and adaptive agricultural training and garden kits (seeds + tools) to over 540 affected households in the coming months. Furthermore, ACT Alliance will engage in advocacy on the national and international level to ensure that the voices of those affected by the volcanic eruption are amplified.